May 30th, 2014 • 2:03 PM
Vernadsky on the Power of Fire and the Credit System

by Meghan Rouillard

Not only did Vladimir Vernadsky correctly denounce the fascists in Ukraine as LaRouchePAC has done today, but he also correctly identified that which unites all of humanity, in contrast to those such fascists of his day such as Dmytro Dontsov, who believed that each nation represented a literally different species, and that there was no such thing as common human truth. Dontsov wrote:

"In healthy species, the factor of will is unlimited.... This eternal, irrational right to life on the part of the nation is superior to everything terrestrial, phenomenological, or rational: it is higher than the life of a given individual, or the blood and death of thousands; it is higher than the welfare of the present generation; higher than abstract mental calculations; higher than common human ethics; and higher than the imaginary notion of good or evil.

"...Be aggressors and occupiers, before you can become rulers and possessors.... No common human truth exists."

In an except from his “Scientific Thought as a Planetary Phenomenon,” referenced at last week’s webcast, Vernadsky wrote of the characteristic of man, and even earlier hominids, which distinguished him from the beasts--the discovery and use of fire, a common human truth:

“I believe that Homo sapiens or his closest ancestors were formed not long before the onset of the period of glaciation, or in one of its warmer periods. Man survived the severe cold of that period, possibly due to the great discovery that was made at that time in the Paleolithic age ‑ the mastery of fire.

That discovery was made in one, two or possibly more places, and was gradually spread among the population of the Earth. I feel that we have here an example of the general process of great discoveries, in which it is not the mass action of mankind, smoothing and refining the details, but rather the expression of separate human individuals. As we'll later see, we may investigate this phenomenon more carefully with many more numerous cases in periods closer to our own.

The discovery of fire appears to be the first instance in which a living organism masters, and makes himself the steward of, one of the forces of nature. Undoubtedly that discovery lies, as we now see, at the basis of the subsequent future increase of mankind and the forces now in his possession. And yet that increase comes about extremely slowly, and it is difficult for us to imagine the conditions under which it may have occurred. Fire was already known to the predecessors of Man, or by that forerunner of the species of hominid, which built the Noosphere.”

While recognizing this capability which unites all of mankind, Vernadsky did recognize the unique power of one particular system of government and of financing to develop these powers and promote the implementation of discoveries which resulted from them. After a trip the the United States in 1913, where he accompanied a Russian delegation to the International Geological Congress in Toronto,” Vernadsky made a trip to Washington D.C. and the Carnegie Lab. He returned home and wrote of his reflections on not only the facilities available to scientists, but what he knew to be the directed government investment which made such things possible:

“At the present time we have the example of another country comparable to us in extent of territory, the United States. It is with a feeling of shame that we compare our knowledge and theirs concerning the resources of our respective countries and the methods of their utilization. And yet, we began work in this direction almost a whole century earlier… We spent very little for this work, which was done largely through the volunteer efforts of private individuals and societies, who were conducting investigations in their spare time. The Americans had all this, of course, perhaps even to a larger degree. But they also had the colossal assistance of both the federal and state governments, especially during the last 40 years… And such expenditure of government means was the most proper method of spending this money. It has paid for itself many times, for it rendered extremely efficient the productive forces of America, given to her by nature. Our productive forces, which are most probably greater than those which were granted to the United States, are dead capital, almost unknown even to their possessors."

Russians (and likely Vernadsky in particular whose father was an economist) were keenly aware of the economic program of Abraham Lincoln and his chief economist Henry Carey which allowed for “the reconstruction of the biosphere in the interests of freely thinking humanity,” one way he described his concept of the noosphere.

*And for those who missed Vernadsky’s comments on Dontsov, whose follower Stepan Bandera spawned today’s Ukrainian fascist organizations, check out our new updated factsheet (see page 24).*

* Please follow the Commenting Guidlines.


The Basement Project began in 2006 as a core team of individuals tasked with the study of Kepler's New Astronomy, laying the scientific foundations for an expanded study of the LaRouche-Riemann Science of Physical Economics. Now, that team has expanded both in number, and in areas of research, probing various elements and aspects of the Science of Physical Economy, and delivering in depth reports, videos, and writings for the shaping of economic policy.